Shifting winds keep crews on even keel
THE 120-strong Airlie Race Week fleet will take to the water today for the final day of racing in Queensland's largest mainland regatta.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the event last Thursday, the entire fleet lined up for the first mass start and the racing that followed was nothing short of spectacular.
A perfect breeze of 15-20knots powered the fleet through the course on Pioneer Bay.
Homegrown Australian multihull champion Paul Mitchell and the crew on board Ullman Sails dominated the Multihull Racing division and took their first win.
With IRC Passage and IRC Racing divisions combined, the amalgamated class consisted of nine big-name boats. Hooligan took the day one race win from Ichi Ban and Team Hollywood.
Saturday provided different conditions for Race2. Lighter airs prevailed, meaning some yachts in the non-spinnaker trailable division retired without completing the race.
A different winner in the IRC division saw the modified 40-foot Farr Ponyo take the win from Team Hollywood and the 40-foot Beneteau Flying Cloud.
Again, Ullman Sails took the win from Morticia in the Muntihull Racing class.
Local boat Condor placed ninth in the Cruising Division 1 class and Greg Hammon at the helm of Rossgo was the best local finisher in the Trailable Division.
The answering pennant flew for most of the morning on day three of racing due to a lack of breeze and the light conditions continued when the gun was finally heard just after 1pm.
Ichi Ban was the best of the pack and crossed first, ahead of Hooligan and Team Hollywood.
Ullman Sails finished just 11 seconds ahead of a gallant Morticia to chalk up her third win of the regatta.
A strong wind warning was issued for Whitsunday waters on Monday and most sailors were glad the heavy breeze coincided with the regatta's lay day.
At the resumption of racing on Tuesday, sailors were met with a 22-23knot southeasterly breeze and conditions that were different again to the previous three days of racing.
IRC Passage contenders were set a course through the Molle Channel, taking in White Rock, while Cruising Divisions 1 and 2 embarked on a reaching course, which also took in the Molle Channel.
The Multihulls Racing class were set a windward/ leeward course, while the Trailable and Sports Boats tracked a course around Daydream Island.
With conditions on the heavier side for day four of racing, the heavier boats had their chance to do their best and it suited the IRC racers.
So far, each day has produced different weather, allowing every type of boat to be at their best.
Ichi Ban was again on top after Tuesday's racing, from Hooligan and Team Hollywood.
The series score at the time of publication on Wednesday in the combined IRC class had Ichi Ban and Team Hollywood on an equal 11 points, while Marcus Blackmore at the helm of Hooligan was in third position.
The Multihull Racing class had two races on day four of competition.
Paul Mitchell and the crew aboard Ullman Sails dominated both races and had a series score of 5.0 with two days of sailing to go.
Well ahead of their nearest rival, the defending Airlie Beach multihull champions led Mortica by 6.0 points and were well placed to take a series clean sweep.
On the penultimate day of racing, the IRC boats crossed the start line at about 10.30am, followed by the Multihull Racing.
At race end it Ichi Ban, Hooligan and Team Hollywood who placed one, two and three respectively.
Ullman Sails will not receive a score for Wednesday's race after the Airlie Beach race committee lodged a protest alleging the boat used their motor after the prep signal.
The boat had 0 point scoring penalty applied to their result in Race 5.
Moticia took the race win ahead of Dirty Deeds.
Local boat Riff Raff is leading the Cruising Division 3 with one race to complete.
Today is marks the final day of Airlie Beach Race Week 2018.